What It Means to Be a Child of Immigrants

 

Many Americans hear the word “Immigrant” and stereotypes pop into their mind.  However, the immigrant has many faces, backgrounds, and futures ahead of them. The children of these immigrants have their owns stories and though they’re all different, there are some common themes among us all.

My mom grew up in a home with a dirt floor in Mexico but always had a dream of becoming a teacher. She moved to the US when she was my age and even without knowing a word of English, she put herself through college and grad school by working three jobs. Today, she’s a middle school math and social studies teacher.

Because of her determination, bravery, and work ethic, I was able to grow up in the US and attend private schools and now I’m able to graduate college in May. I wouldn’t have the same drive to succeed if it weren’t for my mom showing me that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and you work hard enough to achieve it.

Being a child of immigrants is about making our parents proud because they went through hell and back to get us here, it’s only right to pay them back by succeeding and making their hard work worth something.

Identity can be a struggle for many children of immigrants who are trying to maintain their parents’ cultures while also embracing the American one. I find myself not being American enough for the Americans but not Mexican enough for the Mexicans. There’s this feeling of not belonging to either group and not knowing which side I really identify with.

THOUSANDS RALLY FOR IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS ON THE NATIONAL MALL IN WASHINGTON DC

“Being a child of immigrants means truly appreciating what the United States has to offer. Some of the spoiled brats who grew up here, take those benefits for granted. My mom is from Honduras and the conditions there are horrible. Knowing what my life could have been, makes me appreciate my parents and this country even more. I do have an identity struggle at times because I’m not fully exposed to the Latin culture but I’m not fully exposed to the American culture so I constantly feel incomplete. I once told this girl in my class that my mother is from Honduras and she asked me if I spoke Honduran. This was right after we went over the conquistadors in class. Apparently she didn’t learn anything from that lesson.” -Lillian Kelly, 19

“My dad moved here when he was 14 and my mom moved here when she was 3. Being a child of immigrants means appreciating everything I have in life because my family came here for a better life. There’s a balance of trying to maintain my Indian culture while being born here. The older I get, the more I learn and understand what my dad went through growing up and his struggles of adapting to life here. That adds to my appreciation for my life and makes me a hard worker to achieve just as much as my parents, if not more.” – Aveena Patel, 22

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's ban on immigration and travel outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in Queens

“My dad is from Mexico and my mom is a typical white girl. I look like my mom but I grew up with a Mexican family. I’m the only one on my dad’s side that doesn’t speak Spanish so I always felt a little left out and not really accepted as Hispanic. My last name is the only way people know that I’m Hispanic because they can’t tell by my appearance. Sometimes it feels like my last name is my only connection to my Mexican family.” – Mariah Sanchez, 17

“My mom was born in Mexico and she came to the US when she was 25. Growing up, people would sometimes ask me, “Where are you from?” When I would say Louisville, KY they always seemed dissatisfied and would ask the follow-up question, “No, where are your parents from?” It was like being from Kentucky wasn’t the exotic answer they were looking for. It used to annoy the hell out of me when people would ask me that so I started answering them by saying, “I was born here but my mom is from Mexico.” People should really be asking, “What’s your ethnicity?” Being a child of an immigrant means constantly having to prove yourself because people will always have the minority stereotype in their minds when they meet you” – Cindy Gutierrez, 35

immigrants-rights-activists-in-union-square-in-2006

“Sometimes my family back home in Peru makes fun of my accent because I’ve lived in America so long, my accent when I speak Spanish has changed. They say I sound too American. It hurts my feelings sometimes because I don’t want to be any different than them.” – Nicholas Vega, 13

“Selena Quintanilla was always my role model growing up and I think a lot of Hispanic girls look up to her. Especially girls who grew up in the US because when I was little I didn’t fully learn Spanish and I would be so afraid to speak in front of my family. I was worried I would forget how to say a certain word in Spanish and I didn’t want to sound dumb. I will never forget that scene in the movie where Selena says “I’m muy excited” because I can definitely relate to those moments.” – Cheryl Abrao, 37

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